10 More Weird Clauses in Sports Contracts
We've taken a look at strange clauses in baseball contracts before, but since the NFL draft is quickly approaching, we're about to be inundated with another round of sports contract terms. Let's take a look at a few more odd terms, conditions, and clauses from the sports world.
1. Bobby Bonilla Finally Gets Paid
Hey, New York Mets fans, think things couldn't get any worse? Next year former outfielder Bobby Bonilla goes back on the payroll at the ripe old age of 48. A little back-story: In 1999 Bonilla returned to the Mets for a second stint at Shea following his borderline disastrous free-agent signing in 1992.
Bonilla wasn't any better the second time around, so the Mets waived him in 2000. The problem was that the team still owed Bonilla $5.9 million in guaranteed salary. Bonilla's agents worked out a deal with the Mets where he would defer the salary if the team would pay him $1,193,248.20 every July 1 from 2011 to 2035. Not a bad deal for someone who was so bad the team basically paid him to go away.
2. The USFL Keeps Taking Care of Steve Young
When the USFL's Los Angeles express tried to lure star Brigham Young QB Steve Young away from the NFL in 1984, the team had a problem: it didn't have the same sort of cash reserves that the bigger leagues did. Nevertheless, the Express managed to sign Young by paying $34.5 million of his 10-year, $40 million deal in the form of an annuity.
The USFL may have folded in 1986, but the annuity is still paying off until 2027, when Young will bank a $3.173 million check.
3. The Red Sox Buy John Lackey Insurance
The Boston Red Sox made a big free-agent splash this winter by signing starting pitcher John Lackey to a 5-year, $82.5 million deal. Signing pitchers to long-term contracts is a tricky venture due to the possibility of injury, but the Red Sox managed to give themselves a little peace of mind. If Lackey misses any significant time due to surgery on a pre-existing elbow injury during the first five years of the contract, the Red Sox gain a club option for the 2015 season in which Lackey would have to pitch for the Major League minimum salary.
4. George Brett Becomes a Landlord
The contract extension George Brett signed with the Kansas City Royals in 1984 must have been one of the stranger deals in MLB history. The club agreed to give Brett the bat he used in the infamous 1983 "Pine Tar Game" as part of the pact, but that wasn't the only odd perk. The contract also gave him part ownership of an apartment complex in Memphis.
At the time, Avron Fogelman co-owned the Royals. Fogelman had made his fortune as a lawyer and real estate baron in Memphis, so when the team needed a little extra incentive to get Brett to sign, they offered the third baseman a piece of one of Fogelman's developments. Brett's agent/brother Bobby negotiated the deal; he referred to the 1,100-apartment complex as "a nice little kicker." Brett received a guaranteed cash flow of $1 million from the development and retained the right to sell his 10-percent stake to the Royals for $2 million.
Fogelman's Royals used the trick a couple more times when they signed reliever Dan Quisenberry and outfielder Willie Wilson to similar deals that gave them stakes in the 700-apartment Stewart's Ferry development in Nashville. (Quiz got 24.5 percent of the development, while Wilson got 9.5 percent.) Fogelman later told the New York Times that he might have given up too much in the hastily negotiated deals.
5. Barry Bonds Gets a Legal Deal
All player contracts are full of legal jargon, but Barry Bonds' 2007 deal with the San Francisco Giants contained a different kind of legalese. In the wake of Bonds' ongoing problems with the law, the club negotiated a deal that would allow the Giants to release Bonds or convert his contract to a non-guaranteed deal if he came under indictment for a crime. Moreover, the club contractually severed its relationship with Bonds' personal trainers and wrote in the deal that said trainers were no longer allowed in team facilities.
6. Billy Beane Gets a Piece of the A's
When lauded general manager Billy Beane signed a three-year extension with the Oakland Athletics in 2002, he negotiated a clause that would allow him to opt out of the deal if the team were sold. Sure enough, in April 2005, a new ownership group headed by real estate developer Lew Wolff bought the team. Rather than opting out and leaving the team, Beane jumped at the opportunity to negotiate another four-year extension that would take him through the 2012 season. This deal came with more than just cash, though; Wolff also set Beane up as a minority owner with a 4% share of the club.
7. Michael Jordan Pulls in Cash in the Minors
Michael Jordan's abrupt departure from basketball to play minor league baseball following the Chicago Bulls' 1993 championship campaign struck a number of observers as odd. How could Jordan quit playing hoops and leave all of that money on the table?
As it turns out, His Airness was losing less cash than we all thought. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf also owned the Chicago White Sox, the team Jordan was playing for in the minors. Even though Jordan was technically retired from basketball, Reinsdorf paid Jordan his $4 million salaries for the Bulls seasons he missed.
8. Ichiro Won't Be Homeless
One would think a guy making a guaranteed $17 million a year wouldn't be too worried about keeping a roof over his head. Not Ichiro Suzuki, though. The Seattle Mariners star outfielder signed a five-year contract extension in July 2007 that included, among other perks, four round-trip airline tickets to Japan each year and the services of an interpreter and trainer throughout the season. It also included a housing allowance for each year of the deal. While the numbers themselves aren't eye-popping—the allowance ranges from $32,000 to $36,000 a year over the life of the deal—kudos to Ichiro for getting someone else to pay his rent.
9. Need Yankees Tickets? Call A-Rod
When it comes to baseball's biggest free agent deals, it's not uncommon for teams to throw in a suite or a set of premium tickets to home games as part of the contract. Nothing comes free at the new Yankee Stadium, though, not even if you're the team's biggest star. The 10-year contract Alex Rodriguez signed in December 2007 guarantees him $275 million in cash, but he doesn't get any free tickets. Instead, he gets the option of purchasing four Legends Suite or comparable season tickets each year. Fellow Bronx Bomber Mark Teixeira is also contractually allowed to purchase eight of the Yankees' choicest season tickets each year.
10. Curt Schilling Stays Skinny
By the end of his storied career, outspoken hurler Curt Schilling had started to get a bit doughy. When the Boston Red Sox re-signed him to a one-year deal with $8 million before the 2008 season, it included a clause in which Schilling could pick up an extra $2 million if he made weight at six random weigh-ins over the course of the season. Schilling picked up a $333,333 check each time he didn't tip the scales too far.